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National Democrats signal the Iowa caucuses as we know them may be doomed in 2024

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John Pemble/IPR
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National Democrats who set the rules for the presidential nominating calendar took aim at the Iowa caucuses over the weekend. Members of the Democratic National Committee Rules and Bylaws committee met virtually on Saturday to hold their first discussion of the year to talk about the primary process for 2024. Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada are the first states in the calendar.

Mo Elleithee is a campaign strategist and a new member of the DNC. He said the party should highlight diverse states early in the calendar, prioritize primaries over caucuses and bring general election battlegrounds into the process earlier.

“My opinion, and, you know, I'm sure we're going to be talking about this more, you know, three of the four current early windows states satisfy at least two of those criteria,” Elleithee said. “One does not satisfy any of them, at least in recent years.”

There was no direct mention of the Iowa Democratic Party smartphone app debacle that lead to no winner after the Feb. 3, 2020 Iowa caucuses. The AP decided not to declare a winner.

Instead, many took aim at the caucus process itself over a straight state-run primary vote.

“Going to a caucus is incredibly intimidating to people,” said Molly Magarik. “If there's pages and pages of rules and [you] go to someone's house or meet with a bunch of strangers in a gym, especially during a pandemic, I think that will continue to serve as a barrier.”

Many on the committee stressed the importance of states voting with a diverse electorate. Yvette Lewis is a DNC member from Maryland. She said the 2020 race changed when a more diverse group of voters cast ballots in South Carolina.

“I think that we just need to look at the last election cycle, the total trajectory of the race change where people that look like me, were able to be a part of the process,” Lewis said. “I just think that we need to be mindful of that, as we have this discussion.”

The committee will meet again in March.

Scott Brennan is the only Iowan on the committee but he did not talk about the Iowa caucuses during the virtual meeting on Saturday. Brennan is an attorney and former Iowa Democratic Part chair. Current IDP Chairman Ross Wilburn issued a statement after the meeting saying he’s committed to working with the DNC and other early states to ensure future successful Iowa Democratic caucuses.

The caucuses are a function of the state’s two major political parties. Separately, Republican Party of Iowa chair Jeff Kaufmann is leading the national party’s Presidential Nominating Process Committee and is working to preserve the current nominating system.